Communicate to Relate

This afternoon, I made a friend.  You might have seen him.  He’s the guy who sits in the airport with his laptop fired up, intently looking at ….who only knows what.  It’s the stories, though, told by the stickers on his laptop that grabbed my attention.  There was the CC logo (creative commons), a WP (wordpress) logo, KSU (not MY Big XII alma mater, but in the same conference), and a few others…

Laptop with Stickers
**not actual laptop spotted**

Of particular note was a sticker with the image of a microphone built into it’s logo.  As a professional speaker, I sat up and took notice.  Below it, a website name.  Silently, I eased my laptop out of its protective neoprene sleeve, connected to the internet (thanks to Boingo and Houston Hobby’s 45 minute free access), and typed the sites URL into my browser.  First up, I noticed this project had extensive connection to Oklahoma…where I’d spend the 25 years prior to moving to Texas.  I had seen enough and shut down my computer.

Next, I stood up and started walking…right up to the fellow with his laptop open.  Smiling, I said hello, introduced myself, and said, “Okay..I saw the sticker, pulled up your website and want to know more about this project you’re working on.”

He smiled back, stating, “That is exactly why I wore this shirt today…hoping someone would ask.”  The shirt had the same logo and website name I had seen on the sticker.  We had a quick chat about the project, exchanged information, and as I rushed off to board my flight, I promised to follow up.

Writing this from the plane, I am excited.  Right now, who knows if I’ll be a fit to help advance his project, but today I found a kindred spirit.  I am passionate about the need for people to communicate in the pursuit of building stronger relationships.  His project, which you can read about at, seeks to connect people to the past through a creative collection of oral and video captured history.

The next time you notice a sticker, a logo, a website URL or just a friendly soul I encourage you to reach out.  In a world where it seems everyone only wants to connect through social media outlets, I think you’ll find there is something still satisfying about a handshake and a conversation.  Try it.  You just might be surprised.

originally authored 3/30/2011- dsc

Business Relationships Begin With First Class Service

As I found Seat 18A aboard a Continental Express flight from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport to the Midland/Odessa airport, I settled into my routine.  Sony noise-cancelling headphones? Check.  Kindle stowed in seat pocket for takeoff? Check. Carry-on bag neatly stowed in overhead bin? Check.

Admittedly, I don’t pay much attention to the goings-on of other boarding travelers on most days.  That day, however, I noticed something different.  The flight attendant was amazingly polite.  Her banter pleasant and sincere.  Each passenger was greeted with a “thank you for flying with us today” and gentle suggestions for comfort as the attendant performed her pre-flight check of the cabin.  Normally, I wouldn’t notice.  Today, however, there was something VERY familiar about the attendant.  Probably just coincidence.  Then, something caught my eye…and I grinned.

I settled back in my seat, and before I knew it, the aircraft had leveled out at our cruising altitude, and the attendant began our in-flight beverage service.  Normally, I don’t get excited about an over-iced, 5 ounce plastic cup of soda and a Hobbit sized handful of peanuts.  Today, I couldn’t wait.

The One & Only Judy McClure
Cooksey with Judy McClure January 2011

The flight attendant approached my row, made eye contact, and, as I expected, asked, “Mr. Cooksey, what could I get to you drink this afternoon?”

“Judy”, I smiled as I answered her, “you won’t remember me, but a few…”

She put her hand up to stop me mid-sentence to say, “You’re the gentleman who wrote the blog!”

“So you got it?”, I asked, unsure if my message by way of the @Continental account on Twitter had been received.

“My supervisor brought a copy of it to me.  Before that, I didn’t even know what a blog was.”

We laughed, chatted a few minutes, and she continued service to the remaining passengers.

Upon our arrival at the Midland/Odessa, TX airport, I slowly gathered my belongings so I could exit last.  I wanted to make sure to thank her again for continuing to make a difference in each passenger’s experience, whether THEY noticed it or not.

After thanking Judy for the opportunity to share her story from that flight nearly three years earlier to my audiences, she said to me, “You speak and train on customer service, right?”

“Among other topics. Why do you ask?”

Then she dropped the bombshell, “What could I be doing differently to be even better?”

Stumped, I replied, “Judy…just keep doing it.  YOU are the example I’ve been using for the past three years of someone who takes initiative, is sincere, and puts others before herself for the sake of great service.” Then I asked her, “If I may, where did YOU learn about the importance of great service.”

“Probably from my parents”, she humbly replied. “They owned a dime store while I was growing up.  My father always said the key to his success was treating people with enthusiasm and respect.”

Judy, I’m not sure what the future holds for you, but I know you will continue to share your smile, sincere voice, and quiet confidence about you wherever the road (or the skies) may take you.

In a world with thousands of domestic flights each day, thousands of flight crews, and countless travel schedules, it isn’t often that I see the same flight attendant more than once.  When I do, rarely have they left the impression Judy has on me. Every time I board a Continental Express flight, I look for Judy.  If you see her, please be sure to tell her I said hello!

And, yes….she DID give me the entire can of Diet Coke during beverage service.  I didn’t even have to ask!

An Independence Day Tribute to POWs

As we in the United States of America prepare for a weekend to celebrate the declaration of our country’s Independence in 1776, I share this prayer with those, like myself, who are forever indebted to those who have served our country in defense of our freedom and the freedom of others around the globe.

A Prisoners Prayer

Oh God, my creator and protector, I know though art near me, so I adore theee body and soul with complete submission to thy will.

Thou hast saved me from death, which has overtaken my companions and hast permitted me to be a prisoner.  I will bear patiently and hopefully for the love of thee, all the difficulties of my state.

Bless my companions here.  Grant us to live peace, comforting and consoling one another with fraternal love and charity.  Bless my family who are far away, my friends, and all I love; my country and comrades in arms.

Give me peace and protect me from offending thee.  My God, I thank thee for all thy blessings and I will try and serve thee as St. Paul has told us, “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, instant in prayer.”


– from the personal diary of POW Robert W. Cohan, dated between 28 Dec 1944 and 13 May 1945.

Cooksey Connects Announces Logo Design Contest

The time has come to try something new, so I’m asking for your assistance. I’m putting up for grabs a CASH PRIZE for someone to design a new logo for CookseyConnects!

Here are some of the parameters for you to consider:
* Using the element of a carabiner, or other clever connecting device
* Something using the words: Cooksey Connects
* Keep in mind the various directions my firm provides services, including: Keynote Speeches, Event Emcee, Corporate Training, Personal Coaching
* Logo should also be easily convertible to Black & White version so it can be placed on promotional items, etc…

In addition to a $100 cash prize, the winning firm will also receive an exclusive posting on the CookseyConnects blog, an agreement to help promote your design company/services (Hey, if you’re not a design firm, I can just say cool things about you as I travel around the country), and other swag I’m working hard to gather (some of which will sport your fancy, winning logo).

I’m starting with YOU, Connectors! Let me see what you’ve got!


Oklahoma State, Samoa & a Los Angeles Taco Truck

It’s been said that some of the best friends we have in life are those with whom we experienced college.

It’s amazing to me how many divergent roads so many of my friends have taken since our days at Oklahoma State University.  For the most part, we’ve done pretty well.  We are the camp counselors, teachers, fire protection professionals, community leaders, bankers, attorneys, builders, architects, dentists ….basically, the “grown ups” we were studying to become during our collegiate years.  Of course, some of my friends have taken other paths.

One is currently circumnavigating the globe with a backpack of his possessions to share his faith…a far cry from the banking job where we first met just after college.

Another group of friends all wound up working for a technology company that went public during the dot-com craze, most of whom have continued on with other software firms in search of the next big thing…while another simply said “I’m going to take some time off”.

Last month in Los Angeles, somewhere off  Wilshire Boulevard near Koreatown, I found myself sharing some laughs, swapping stories and enjoying some amazing mexican pork goodness by the light of Tacos Juanita’s…a trailer quietly parked on the side of the road.  I was sitting with one of the most colorful characters of my residence hall floor, Dave…or to the fans of last fall’s “Survivor: Samoa“, Danger Dave!

I can’t remember a day of college where something hilarious didn’t fly out of Dave’s mouth, usually as he blasted past you on his red mountain bike (often while defiantly riding straight through the dormitory lobby and onto the elevator).  Here’s a guy who truly has decided to live his life (quite happily) doing what HE wants to do. Dave…I applaud you!

The next time you’re out of town on a business trip, or otherwise find yourself somewhere you usually aren’t…pick up the phone (you know…that texting maching attached to your hand can also place phone calls), send an email, reach out to an old friend.  Most likely, they will be glad to hear from you.  Best of all, there is no telling what they have been up to.